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Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Graduate Student
Title: 6th-year graduate student
Office: Jones Hall

I enjoyed the classical, still unreformed German university curriculum in the humanities which was void of such fancy ideas like an undergraduate education. That meant a lot of freedom and seven years until graduation which I spent in Erlangen, Damascus (IFPO), Durham, NJ (Duke), Tehran (Dekhoda) and, finally, Tübingen. There I wrote my Magister Artium thesis Proper Signposts for the Camp: The Reception of Classical Authorities in the Ǧihādī Manual al-ʿUmda fī Iʿdād al-ʿUdda (Ergon: Würzburg 2011).
My current interests at Princeton still deal with modern negotiations of the Islamic tradition, albeit in its Shiʿi manifestation. More specifically, I am studying theological and legal debates among Pakistani ʿulama and the struggle for Shiʿi orthodoxy since the late colonial period. My dissertation, advised by Prof. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, inter alia traces shifting conceptions of religious authority, the intellectual reception of the Iranian revolution and the changing nature of sectarianism in South Asia. I pay close attention to transnational links between Pakistan, India and the Middle East and study how ideas are translated, appropriated and resisted when they travel between these regions. To gain access to rare materials in Urdu, Persian, and Arabic, extensive fieldwork of 15 months led me to libraries and archives in Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran and the United Kingdom.
Together with Sarah Holz of the Freie Universität Berlin I have organized a panel on South Asian ʿulamaat the 32nd German Oriental Studies Conference in Münster. I am also a participant in the Princeton/Oxford Collaborative Project “Traditional authority and transnational religious networks in contemporary Shi‘i Islam” and have served as a co-organizer of the first Princeton Islamic Studies Colloquium Graduate Student Conference “'Failure' in Islamic Reform” in April 2013.
For the academic year 2013/2014, I am the recipient of a Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. I have co-taught the course “Muslims and the Qurʾan” with Prof. Muhammad Qasim Zaman and “Introduction to the Middle East” with Prof. Michael Cook. I served as the Treasurer of Princeton's Graduate Student Government, and I am currently involved with Princeton's Prison Teaching Initiative.
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